Trump apparently heard discussing firing Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
A recording reviewed by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired while speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two former business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who have since been indicted in New York.
The recording appears to contradict statements by President Trump and support the narrative that has been offered by Parnas during broadcast interviews in recent days. Sources familiar with the recording said the recording was made during an intimate April 30, 2018, dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“Get rid of her!” is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
On the recording, it appears the two Giuliani associates are telling President Trump that the U.S. ambassador has been bad-mouthing him, which leads directly to the apparent remarks by the President. The recording was made by Fruman, according to sources familiar with the tape. The White House did not respond to an ABC News request for comment.
During the conversation, several of the participants can be heard laughing with the president. At another point, the recording appears to capture Trump praising his new choice of secretary of state, saying emphatically: “[Mike] Pompeo is the best.” But the most striking moment comes when Parnas and the president discuss the dismissal of his ambassador to Ukraine.
Parnas appears to say: “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,” Parnas can be heard telling Trump. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.” (Yovanovitch actually had served in the State Department since the Reagan administration.)
It was not until a year later that Yovanovitch was recalled from her position — in April 2019. She said the decision was based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives” that she was disloyal to Trump.
In a recent interview with MSNBC, Parnas publicly recounted his memories of the scene at the dinner and said that Trump turned to John [DeStefano], who was his deputy chief of staff at the time, and said “Fire her,” he claimed.
“We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can’t do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don’t have — this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until — so several conversations he mentioned it again.“
However, Pompeo had been confirmed and privately sworn in days earlier.
A copy of the recording is now in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, who declined to comment to ABC News.
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